The Situationist City

Just finished reading The Situationist City by Simon Sadler. Was a really interesting read, I have read other books on the Situationists but this was really accessible and focused mainly on the architectural/urban planning side of things.
I have always thought of myself as as a child of the 60/70s born in the wrong era, and reading books like this really reinforces that feeling. What an exciting time to be alive, the imagery of these guys skulking around the murky underbelly of paris drifting from place to seedy place is awesome.
They had the idea that the real essence and power of the city lay in its back alleys and underground dark places. Not the commercially driven, consumer worshipping main streets and tourist centres, but the dark lane ways with history scrawled on the walls, and market places where people meet and invigorate each other. They would drift around the city making maps of where the ambiances of the city pulled them or pushed them away.
A beautiful concept although reading the book you begin to realise that it can only ever exist on paper, as any attempt to create such situationist places instantly destroys the notion of a spontaneous interaction. It seems the Situationists realised this as they never succeeded in producing built work.
Although if the Situationist ideals only live on as a philosophical theory on how to live a more fulfilling life, then i guess thats better than nothing. The book has got me thinking about 5th yr ideas though, if not for situationist architecture but for thinking along the lines of a 1960s avant garde seeking to spit in the face of conformity and consumerism. Hmm….




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